By Beecher Tuttle
Recent technological innovations – like Web-enabled TVs, file sharing solutions and unified communication applications – have given consumers a feel for what integrated connectivity can bring, and they have developed a taste for it.
With this in mind, Alcatel-Lucent's research wing, Bell Labs, developed a concept called Digital Life Service, a home networking service that enables consumers to connect, share and control a home's appliances and infrastructure. Digital Life allows users to integrate heating, lighting, home monitoring and entertainment – and control these services remotely.
Alcatel-Lucent recently conducted a market research study in China to assess consumer appeal for the service. The survey included residents of eight Chinese cities and focused on identifying projected demand, key target segments as well as drivers and barriers to service adoption.
Bell Labs researchers found that over 42 percent of respondents are likely to purchase Digital Life, the vast majority of whom indicated that they would sign up within the next six months.
In terms of most desired features, respondents were excited about Digital Life's ability to automatically call the police in case of a home emergency as well as enabling constant monitoring of an elderly family member’s health.
Other options described as "very appealing" by consumers are the ability to monitor and operate your home devices remotely as well as the added capacity to pay all utility bills together.
In terms of content that they would most like to have access to, respondents pointed toward television, followed closely by home status monitoring and telecom services. The most common concerns focused on stability, security and privacy.
Chinese consumers said that they would be willing to pay around $73 for a Digital Life device, plus another $3 to $44 per month for the service. The majority of those surveyed said that they would prefer paying an upfront fee for the hardware if it lowered the monthly payments.
"This monthly pricing will result in significant revenue opportunities even with low market penetration," wrote the Bell Labs researchers after conducting their analysis.
The consensus preference for delivery of the service would be through broadband service providers, followed closely by mobile operators and landline providers.
"When launching the Digital Life service, telecom operators should initially target the most tech-savvy segments, which include consumers with higher household incomes, many electronic devices and basic home networking already installed," the researchers recommend.